Street Fighter 6: All Character Archetypes
Picking a character to play in Street Fighter 6 can be difficult, especially for newcomers with no fighting game experience. After all, things are now way different from the days of the first ever Street Fighter title, when both selectable characters (Ryu and Ken) were precisely the same in terms of moves and characteristics.
Every character in modern fighting games is unique in some way, whether through their move list, frame data, playstyles, or some combination of these and more.
This is why the fighting game community typically segregates characters into different archetypes. While each character has something to set them apart from the rest of the cast in their respective games, they will often have enough in common with each other that they can fall under specific categories.
These archetypes can help newbies pick the kind of character they want to play without having to try each and every one before making their choice. Street Fighter 6 is no exception, so we’re here to run down each archetype for those on the fence about the 18 characters thus far.
The most basic and iconic archetype in all of the fighting games, the Shoto is perfect for new players looking to learn the fundamentals of Street Fighter. Named after the Shotokan style of karate, Shotos are equipped with three special moves: the Hadouken (fireball), the Shoryuken (dragon punch), and the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku (hurricane kick).
Shotos are known for being jack-of-all-trades type characters in Street Fighter, with their three special moves forming the bread and butter of their game plan. The Hadouken allows them to control horizontal space and keep opponents away.
Thus, Shotos can adapt their gameplay to suit each matchup. Though they may not excel at any one thing, their flexibility allows them to adjust on the fly as necessary.
Ryu and Ken were the first ever Shotos to appear in the series, being the only playable characters in the franchise’s debut title in 1987. They have since appeared in every entry in the franchise to date.
Many others have since been introduced over the years, such as Akuma in Street Fighter II, Sakura in Street Fighter Alpha 2, and to a certain extent, Luke in Street Fighter V. Ryu remains the purest example of this archetype, while others like Ken and Luke have their own little quirks that differentiate them from the original definition of the term.
Rushdown characters are all about getting right up in your face and ensuring you can barely even breathe. Their playstyle focuses on point-blank combat, attacking opponents until their defenses crack. Such characters are often equipped with moves that give them a significant advantage when blocked or tricky attacks like dive kicks that require quick reactions to counter effectively.
They may also come with things that make them highly mobile, like moves that cause them to run, dash across the screen, or otherwise cover a ton of distance in a hurry. This allows them to bypass attempts at keeping them at arm’s length, thus enabling the aggressive nature of their game plan.
Cammy is the very definition of rushdown. Her Cannon Strike is a classic divekick, which lets her get in on opponents from the air and frustrate their attempts at anti-airing her. Should her opponents block, she is often left at an advantage, allowing her to continue applying pressure after landing.
Rushdown characters tend to be very strong across different fighting game titles, as it is simply asking a lot out of most players to defend against hyper-aggressive styles constantly. Those cornered by rushdown characters often have to guess after blocking just to get out of pressure situations, which can be frustrating to play against.
The polar opposite of rushdown, zoner characters prefer to sit back and chuck projectiles at their opponents from far away instead. Their goal is to control the entire playing field with fireballs and long-reaching normal moves, chipping away at the enemy’s health little by little and goading them into making mistakes.
To compensate for their reach, though, zoners are generally below average in terms of overall strength when forced to fight up close. Their moves tend to be relatively slow or less rewarding at point-blank range compared to other archetypes, so they rely more on their keep-out game.
This isn’t to say that zoners are entirely helpless when their opponents manage to close the distance, though. Some come with decent moves when forced to scrap face-to-face, but they will likely want to back up and keep you away again.
Guile is a classic example of a zoner. He sits back crouched, blocking for most of the round, throwing Sonic Boom after Sonic Boom until his opponent gets impatient enough to jump. Once he sees his prey airborne, he knocks them right out of the sky with the Flash Kick. Rinse and repeat until the opponent is KOed.
JP is another highly oppressive zoner. He gives players without the appropriate matchup knowledge serious fits, as they will have to figure out how to navigate his endless stream of full-screen projectiles.
Grapplers are lumbering characters that tend to be both large and slow and have no meaningful ways of attacking their opponents from afar. They generally have low forward walk speeds, making it difficult for them to approach their adversaries safely.
They often trade their health (which they typically have plenty of) to close the gap, which means that playing grapplers is not for the faint of heart. But when they do get in, it’s party time. Grapplers that manage to get up close and personal can put their opponents in frightening situations, as they are forced to guess whether a command throw or a normal attack is coming.
If they guess wrong, they can die without knowing what hit them. After all, command throws cannot be broken like normal throws (by pressing both light attacks simultaneously); only jumping or using an invincible reversal move can beat them. They are also completely impossible to react to, as they are inescapable once the startup frames are done.
Grappler players thus live for the rush of turning games around with their command throw mixups. It takes a lot to make the game plan work, but the rewards are plentiful and give a kind of excitement that no other archetype can provide.
Zangief represents the pure grappler; he has no projectiles, moves forward at a snail’s pace, and has ridiculously large muscles. Once he gets in, you better pray you guess right every time he does something.